“It was June, and the world smelled of roses.”

June. The month of my birth. The month of roses and honeysuckle, pearl and alexandrite and moonstone. The transition from spring into summer.

It’s been busy, as you might imagine. Lots of things going on around the farm — there is no end of work to be done. Enjoying the new blooms on my rose bushes. (They didn’t do well last year.) And I discovered mullein today. It’s a biennial, and it didn’t come up last year.

We have a tree guy coming out on Wednesday. Several trees need to either go or be cut back (free mulch!) — though Wednesday is just the estimate. And we’re getting quotes on a new barn. That’s going to be a massive project, but it’s going to look incredible when it’s done. Our old metal barn has its own particular charm, but it’s not very practical.

I thought I’d be picking cherries today, but I discovered this morning that some thief (squirrel, probably) absconded with them since yesterday. Honestly, the tree wasn’t very productive, so it’s just as well. Hardly worth dragging a ladder halfway across the yard for not enough cherries to bake a pie.

The creek bed is dry. We desperately need rain. There’s a decent chance of rain in the forecast next Sunday — my birthday. Fingers crossed. At least we are done with our heat wave, for now.

In other news, I had an article published last week in Jumble & Flow. And I will likely have more work with them in the near future. Again, fingers crossed.

We went out to our camper yesterday to prep it for our upcoming camping trip. We haven’t used it in nearly two years (September 2021), so the tires needed air, and it needed a good cleaning. A bunch of stink bugs and gnats got in. Dead bugs everywhere. I’m excited to get out and camp again.

Primrose Path

Perhaps what surprises me the most about our huge flowerbeds is that no one thought to put paths through it. It’s a dense jungle that is difficult to weed and water in some places. I told L last year that I was going to add stepping stone paths in several spots for easier access.

I started doing that yesterday. L took apart the shoddily constructed firepit that the previous owners built. It was in an odd spot in the yard, to begin with. And the bricks were loose. L removed the bricks and filled the pit with topsoil.

Thankfully, I had an immediate use for the bricks.

This may just be temporary. I’m now out of bricks, so I either need to get more like these or replace these with something else (while creating more paths of the same). The bricks look OK, but I think flat stones would look better.

I had to clear out some evening primrose to make this path. But I have tons of it growing already — too much, really — so no big loss. And now we can access the dryer vent in the back of the house without stepping on any plants. (The dryer vent cover needs replacing.)

I need to mulch. But my God, I have no idea how much we would actually need. The flowerbeds are so massive. I really think it would be in our best interest to make them smaller and easier to manage. The original owners of the house evidently had significantly more time to devote to the care of this property than we do. Our goal is to make it more manageable, but it will take a lot of work just to get it to that point.

Here comes the sun

Despite the chilly start to the month, May is warming up nicely. And the garden is responding. I’m doing my veggie garden in containers this year since the raised beds are dismantled and we still need to clean up that entire area. But grow bags and 7-gallon pots are working quite well.

I have Yukon Gold potatoes growing in two grow bags. So far, so good. I have three containers of onions, which also look great. Yesterday, I planted a patio tomato — slicers on a small plant that works in containers. (I was overjoyed to find a container plant that produces slicers!) I have the mixed salad greens in one container, and those have grown enough to provide a couple of salads for me already (supplemented with the lemon balm that is taking over my flower beds).

And that’s the extent of my vegetable garden this year. We have to bring in some earth-moving equipment to redo the entire area where the raised beds used to be. Currently, it’s a massive, weedy mess, and it kind of depresses me to look at it.

I still have a lot of flower seeds to sow. We’ve had enough rain recently to keep me out of the garden more than I want to be.

Speaking of rain, Mom and I celebrated Mother’s Day a day early last weekend. She came to my house and I drove an hour down to the Hocking Hills — it rained pretty much the entire way. But it was a pretty drive on the country roads leading to Ash Cave.

I chose Ash Cave because it’s one of the easier hikes. And it’s about a mile round-trip. The rain stopped when we got there, but it started raining again just after we left the cave and started making our way back to the parking lot. We were pretty damp by the time we got back to my car, but no one can say it wasn’t an adventure! (Also, hurrah for quick-dry pants and waterproof hiking shoes!)

I had no GPS signal when we got on the road — not particularly surprising. Thankfully, my sense of direction doesn’t completely suck. Our next destination was Hocking Hills Winery, and I knew the general direction I needed to go to get there. After driving about 20 miles or so, the GPS signal came back, and we got to the winery without any issues. It’s a scenic drive most of the way anyway, so being kind of lost isn’t that big of a deal.

I’ve been to this winery before. Mom had never been. She was impressed immediately, especially with their spacious outdoor seating area. Thankfully, they have a covered porch, so we requested seating there. We ordered a charcuterie board and a bottle of pink Moscato to share, and it was a lovely way to end our little excursion.

June will be here before we know it. We have a couple of camping trips coming up. Since we didn’t camp at all last year, I’m rather excited. But this means I need to do a bit more cleaning and prepping in the Bigfoot before we can take it out on the road.

Finding Balance

Things have really picked up with my travel advisor biz this past week. I made several bookings — all for the same trip — including hotel destinations and tours. I now qualify to level up to advanced status, though I have to take the training and pass the exam first. I’m considering it. Though I’m not in any rush. After all, this is supposed to be my side hustle.

By the way, Project Expedition and Get Your Guide offer some fantastic tours if you’re looking for a day trip or even just a fun excursion for a few hours. They have all sorts of stuff, from wine/beer/food tasting tours, to historic walking tours, to river cruises, etc. Check them out — they offer tours in destinations around the world. (Those are my affiliate links, by the way, so I earn commission if you book something.)

Meanwhile, I continue to work on my content creation business. I got approval on Friday for an article concept I pitched to Jumble & Flow, so I need to write it now.

And now, of course, it’s growing season. The fruit trees are in blossom — even the apple trees that are basically at the end of their lives and didn’t produce any good apples last year. And the strawberries are blossoming, too, in the raised bed that we’re tearing down. LOL. (They’re not great strawberries. Small and squishy and not very productive.)

I feel like I’m far behind — partly because I’ve been so busy with work. And partly because the weather doesn’t want to stay consistently warm.

I’m trying right now to clear the asparagus bed so the asparagus can actually grow. The bed is choked with weeds (at least they’re pollinator friendly), so I have yet to see a single spear. It’s slow going since the soil is clay and we’ve had quite a bit of rain. And the weeds don’t want to make things easy for me.

The flower beds desperately need weeding, too.

I wonder how I’m going to get it all done. But I probably wondered that last year, too. And somehow we made it work.

Last Sunday, we watched a Cooper’s hawk in the massive silver maple next to our driveway. It was eating its kill – a robin. Though it apparently killed two robins because we had two neatly decapitated robin heads in our driveway. Ah, nature.

Hardly a video worthy of a nature documentary. And the hawk helpfully moved further away before I started recording.

Spring in my step

Ohio’s mud season is pretty much over, I hope. We’ve had a few dry days, and the temperatures keep rising. Our yard is still squishy in a few places, but in just a few more months, we’ll be complaining about how dry it is.

I got out yesterday to start my spring cleanup. We have a lot of work to do, but it feels good to get out of hibernation. I don’t know about you, but I feel so much better physically and mentally in the spring. I have seasonal affective disorder, so the dark, cold days of winter make me tired and listless. I finally feel a bit more alive.

Speaking of alive, our yard is greening up, the trees are budding, and the first wildflowers of the season are spreading across the lawn and flower beds: purple deadnettle, henbit, wild violets, and Virginia springbeauty (all purple flowers, as it happens).

And our pond is filled with froglets! We have a decent population of American bullfrogs living in the pond, and now they have increased. Though I realize that’s just a bigger excuse for the heron to keep coming by. More juicy, froggy morsels!

I mentioned about two months ago that I tried winter sowing in milk jugs this year. Well, it was a colossal failure. But this is how we learn, right? I know many people have success with this method, but it didn’t work for me.

That said, I recently bought some large clear plastic tubs with lids to serve as a greenhouse for sowing tomatoes, peppers, groundcherries, parsley, and strawberries. It’s been a little over a week since I sowed and no sprouts as of yet.

This photo was taken the day I planted the seeds. I put the container out on the porch the following day in a spot that gets a lot of sun. And I’ve been watering as needed. Fingers crossed this works. I pop the lid off during the day if it’s warm enough and put the lid back on at night. The condensation builds up nicely when the lid is on!

Since we dismantled the raised beds, I’m not going to have much of a proper garden this year. I will be using a lot of containers. I am hoping we can build new raised beds next year. Right now, we have plenty of other projects to keep ourselves busy — one of the biggest being a cleanout of the barn. We’re going to rent a dumpster and get rid of the junk the previous owners left behind.

I’m a bit overwhelmed by all there is to do, but I also felt this way last year. Our neighbors told us that it took them eight years to get their yard the way they wanted it, so I just need to find some patience and keep doing the work that needs to be done to make this property what we want it to be. It’s not going to happen overnight.

Hello, March

I’m not sorry to see February in the rearview mirror. March is here, and it’s coming in like a lamb. It’s supposed to be 70 degrees today.

February went out like a lion. A couple of days ago, we were sheltered in the basement due to two tornado warnings that overlapped in our area. I am hoping to get out in the yard today to assess the damage. There was a confirmed tornado in our county, though it wasn’t close to us. But we had high winds and sideways rain, and I have no doubt that we have branches to clean up at the very least.

Speaking of cleaning up…

I’ve been in a spring cleaning sort of mood lately. It started when I ordered a CHOMP wall mop in early February. I got on a wall cleaning kick — though I’m not done yet. I love this mop, though! It makes cleaning the walls and baseboards so quick and easy.

Last week, I cleaned the refrigerator. It’s so nice to open the fridge now and not see messy shelves and drawers.

I just need to keep going and deep clean the areas that are usually overlooked. I admit that I’m not the best at housekeeping. I can’t stand cleaning, but I also can’t stand dust and dirt. Though given where we live, I’ve had to make peace with dirt and mud being tracked into the house a lot — especially this time of year. (My kingdom for a mud room!)

We also took care of the pine tree that fell into our yard in January during a wind storm. Well, it was part of a pine tree, anyway. A rather sizeable part of the tree that snapped off. The tree belongs to our neighbors and we had actually never talked to them until Sunday. That’s the day I went out with loppers and a pocket saw to start clearing away some of that mess. (Needed a chainsaw, too, but the hubs would rather deal with that himself.)

The neighbor saw me and came over to apologize for his tree and offer to clean up the mess. I went back to the house to let L know, and the two of us, along with our neighbor and his wife, worked together to clean it up. We got to talking, and now I’m glad to know them. He graduated from the same high school I did.

So, we now know our neighbors on either side of us. And we’re all relatively close in age, which is cool. I love living here for the most part. (I could do without the dead wildlife in our yard, but that’s just something I have to get used to. Sometimes, it’s like Marty Stouffer’s Wild America all up in here.)

In other news, my professional life has taken a rather dramatic turn for the better this week. I will share more details about that soon. I am starting this month feeling hopeful for the first time in a long time. After nearly a year of struggling to establish and grow my business, I feel an overwhelming sense of relief.

I have a lot to look forward to this month, and spring is so close! I already have daffodils in bloom.

Have a great March, everyone!

Busy, busy, busy

Despite the slower pace of living in the country, life has been pretty fast-paced lately. I meant to update this much sooner, but I’ve been so busy.

Winter seed sowing in gallon jugs is underway. It’s been 2 weeks since I sowed the first of the seeds — salad greens — and those are the only seeds that have sprouted so far. All except for the Swiss chard. Gardening is really about experimenting anyway, so if this particular experiment doesn’t work out, I still have plenty of seeds.

I have 13 jugs on the porch right now. I will be planting tomato seeds soon.

It’s mostly felt like spring with the occasional cold day. Perhaps the groundhog was wrong. Though I suspect we’ll pay for all these warm days in the spring.

You may have heard about the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, two weeks ago. It made the national news, though if you live outside of the U.S., you may not know about it. My husband, who works for the state government, had to deploy up there shortly after it happened. He sent me this chilling photo as he was sheltering in place at an elementary school during the controlled release of chemicals a few days after the accident.

He’s home now, but he wasn’t given any protective gear while he was there — no mask or anything. Time will tell how devastating this will be on the community, but it’s already taken a huge toll, and I really feel for the people and animals who live in the area.

In other news, we’ve had a deer carcass in our yard that’s been dragged around by coyotes, I am assuming. (Honestly, what else could it be? Bears aren’t that common in Ohio — not in this part of the state, anyway.) Until now, it’s just been dragged through the wooded parts of our yard, but now it looks like it exploded. Fur and body parts everywhere, including the open part of our yard where I walk Blitz almost daily. I asked L to get the SD card out of our trail cam. He set it up so it was aimed at the carcass, hoping we might capture something exciting. Stay tuned.

Work-wise, I finally got my first travel booking. So exciting! A Trafalgar tour for 2 to Great Britain this summer!

As for the writing and editing biz, I am working on a huge copyediting project at the moment and have some other irons in the fire. Things are starting to pick up. Next month, Words in Bloom will celebrate its first anniversary.

I have jury duty coming up on Thursday. I have never had jury duty before. I need to call a day ahead to find out if I still need to report to the courthouse.

I’m so sorry, little fox

After recent heavy rain and flooding, I took Blitz out for a walk in the yard this morning while everything was still frozen. As we crossed the bridge over our creek, I saw it.

A dead fox in our yard.

I was not prepared for that. Since we moved here, I’ve seen my share of dead things: mice and moles killed by the neighbor’s barn cat. A dead snake. Dead birds. Bones. Piles of feathers left after a hawk attack. Even dismembered rabbit parts. Last month, I had to remove a dead rabbit from our driveway. Its blood stained the gravel for days afterward.

But a fox… It shook me.

My husband dealt with it. He laid it to rest somewhere in our woods where I won’t see it on my walks back there. He told me it looks like it was shot in the stomach, and that upsets me even more. The thought that someone shot it and it suffered and died in our yard. I can’t bear it.

I’m so sorry, little fox. I’m sorry for human cruelty. I’m sorry you died in pain.

I Found a Dead Fox — Mary Oliver

I found a dead fox

beside the gravel road,

curled inside the big

iron wheel

of an old tractor

that has been standing,

for years,

in the vines at the edge

of the road.

I don’t know

what happened to it –

when it came there

or why it lay down

for good, settling

its narrow chin

on the rusted rim

of the iron wheel

to look out

over the fields,

and that way died –

but I know

this: its posture –

of looking,

to the last possible moment,

back into the world –

made me want

to sing something

joyous and tender

about foxes.

But what happened is this –

when I began,

when I crawled in

through the honeysuckle

and lay down

curling my long spine

inside that cold wheel,

and touched the dead fox,

and looked out

into the wide fields,

the fox


There was only myself

and the world,

and it was I

who was leaving.

And what could I sing


Oh, beautiful world!

I just lay there

and looked at it.

And then it grew dark.

That day was done with.

And then the stars stepped forth

and held up their appointed

fires –

those hot, hard

watchmen of the night.

Holly Jolly

We had a difficult time getting into the Christmas spirit in 2020 and 2021. In 2020, we had to put our dog to sleep on December 23. Last year, we started moving on December 23.

I really want to make up for it this year. And given our environment, I really wanted to make use of the pine and pine cones I could forage from our yard. I finished the decorations today. We don’t go Clark Griswold on the lights, but simple is best in my opinion.

By the way, if you ever collect pine cones for use indoors, be sure to rinse them, shake off the excess water, and then bake them on a foil-lined baking sheet at 200 degrees F for 45 minutes. This dries up the sap, kills any lingering insects, and opens up the pine cones if they are still closed. I am continuing to collect pine cones to hang on the Christmas trees.

I sort of wish we could get a real tree. Our yard is full of them — and some are the perfect Christmas tree size. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t tempted to chop one down and bring it in the house to decorate.

On to a different topic.

On Tuesday, two hunters knocked on our door. They were hunting in the wooded area across the street from our house, shot a buck, and it took off into our yard. They think it may have died on our property and wanted to bring a tracking dog later that afternoon to find it. I was in no position at the time to take them through the backyard in search of it, or I would have. (I just finished working out and was dressed accordingly.) They wouldn’t need a tracking dog if it did die in our yard. It would be easy enough to find.

Regardless, I gave them permission to come back. Because I needed them to take it away if it did die in our yard. I did a search of the yard a little later but found nothing. Not a single drop of blood and especially not a deer carcass.

They came back at 4 pm with a bloodhound, and the dog tracked the buck’s scent through our yard. I accompanied them through the yard, partly out of interest and partly because I don’t want complete strangers traipsing through our yard without supervision – we have some tripping hazards and it’s a liability issue.

We found a spot where some foliage had been damaged, and there were some fresh deer tracks there. The hound followed the scent all the way to the back of our property and indicated that the deer had crossed the fence to the property behind ours. So they continued their search there, and that’s where my story with them ends.

I have no idea if they ever found the buck. But I hope they did because I would hate to think it was shot in vain. Though if they didn’t find it, I’m pretty sure the coyotes did.